Israel's ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, held a farewell event for President Reuven Rivlin today (Tuesday) with the participation of dozens of UN ambassadors from major countries around the world.
"It was important to me that President Rivlin have a chance to meet with you all, because in Israel, the UN is somewhat of a puzzle," Ambassador Erdan said.
"On the one hand, the institution is comprised of many countries that we have very close bilateral relations with; the countries that you represent, as well as many others. On the other hand, it is undeniable that there is a strong bias against Israel at the UN and that anti-Semitism has infected too many UN bodies. The sheer number of anti-Israel resolutions in the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, as well as the wasted discussions in the Security Council that should be focused on real threats to peace and security, like Iran, make this abundantly clear.
"Unfortunately, these anti-Israel resolutions pass with the support of countries that choose to ignore our strong bilateral relations.
"In 1947, the UN’s 57 members voted in favor of establishing a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. Today, with 193 members, many of them allies, I am not sure that such a resolution would pass. This should worry us all," he said.
"Ignoring the fact that Israel is a peace-seeking nation, and contributing to portraying us in the opposite way, by for example, creating false moral equivalence between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization, is counterproductive and dangerous.
"It creates a destructive illusion for the Palestinians that they do not have to compromise because a solution on their terms will be forced upon Israel.
"Just today, President Abas made outrageous claims against Israel, saying that Israel was implanted by colonialists as a foreign body in this region in order to fragment it and keep it weak.
"The UN’s actions embolden this behavior.
"Enemies of Israel also use these baseless statements and resolutions to delegitimize the State of Israel and incite anti-Semitic attacks.
"Nevertheless, I know that President Rivlin and I share the opinion that if the UN rids itself of its bias, Israel could help it be a greater force for good. However, for that to happen, we need you, our friends, to join us in trying to return the UN to its values of impartiality and fairness, and share the truth about Israel.
"One step in that direction is joining Israel, the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and Hungary in refusing to participate in the event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Conference, which was an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate fest.
"Israel already plays a significant role in helping overcome some of biggest challenges facing the international community.
"The incredible green innovation of Israeli companies is helping us all combat the devastating consequences of climate change.
"Through our International Development agency, MASHAV, Israel assists countries all around the world in fighting water scarcity and food insecurity, to name a couple.
"Israel has led the world in recovering from the COVID-19 crisis and has shared our knowledge and experience with other countries.
"Israel also contributes to international safety and security on two fronts.
"The first is by sharing best practices with others, including UN peacekeeping missions, in counter terrorism, field medicine and other areas.
"The second is by promoting peace.
"In the past year, we have reached five new normalization and peace agreements. These join the two important agreements we have with Egypt and Jordan.
"Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the Abraham Accords is that it is a warm, people-to-people peace.
"The peoples of the region have embraced the agreements' message of coexistence and religious tolerance. They have begun to learn each other's languages and to cooperate in a variety of fields.
"Israel will continue to build a new, peaceful reality in the region and at the same time fight against the biggest threats we face, namely – Iran.
"Iran's leaders declare their intentions to annihilate Israel as they continue to develop their nuclear program and send terrorist proxies to threaten our borders and destabilize the Middle East.
"Can you imagine another situation in which a member state would repeatedly declare its intention of destroying another and the UN would stay silent?
"It is also important to remember that Iran is not only a threat to Israel. It persecutes its own people, threatens the moderate countries in the region and spreads terrorism globally. Allowing Iran to become even a nuclear threshold state could start an arms race in the region that would have devastating consequences.
"Israel will never allow the most dangerous regime in the world to acquire the most dangerous weapon in the world.
"Ladies and Gentlemen,
"While the threat of Iran contributed to reaching the Abraham Accords, what ultimately brought the countries together is the understanding of the potential that could be unleashed and transform lives in the Middle East. The agreements have taught us that the way to promote peace in our region is by allowing people to get to know each other.
"This idea of bringing people together has been one of President Rivlin’s key missions, and successes, during his time in office.
"President Rivlin has helped create a new reality in our region by connecting Muslims, Christians and Jews. He has helped highlight all that we have in common and everything we have to gain from focusing on that, rather than on our disagreements.
"His strong commitment to Israel’s Jewish identity as well as to its democratic values is a true manifestation of Jabotinsky, the father of our party’s, vision – defending the Jewish homeland and fighting for the principle that “every individual,” no matter who they are is “a king.”
"On a more personal note, I have known President Rivlin for many years and had the honor of serving beside him in the Knesset.
"Ruvi, it has been inspiring to watch you lead our country and represent it around the world.
"Your extraordinary legacy of promoting unity and understanding between people will remain strong long after you return to being an ordinary citizen. I want to thank you for all that you have done, and I am sure will continue to do, in service of our beloved State of Israel," Erdan concluded,